Making Peach Salsa – Salve for the Summer Soul

Chipotle Peach Salsa

As we all know, the favorite season of the year is here – its summer time! And with that, a summer is never complete without the food to match. Which is why, here I am with a little something to spice and liven up your summer diet! If you have never experienced eating this wondrous delicacy, peach salsa is a condiment that pairs very well with fish, pork, and of course, the perennial tortilla chips. Without further delay. lets get about making peach salsa now!

To make the sauce, first prepare the following ingredients: 1 pound of diced tomatoes, 1 seeded and finely diced bell pepper, 2 seeded and diced jalapenos, 1 diced medium-sized onion, half a bunch of chopped cilantro, two tablespoons of lime juice, a quarter teaspoon of ground pepper, half a teaspoon of salt, and of course the main ingredient, 1.5-2 pounds of diced peaches. On a personal note, the ingredients listed above make up the perfect composition for me – not too salty, with the perfect blend of tomato goodness with the delightful peach flavor, in a slightly sour medium. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, the recipe for preparing this dish isn’t all that difficult to follow. Once you’ve gathered all the ingredients, the hardest part is already over.

peach

Now with the ingredients by my side and my trusty apron donned, I set out to create the perfect addition to my lunch. Its time for making peach salsa! First i chopped the tomatoes i bought fresh from the supermarket, and poured all of the juice-filled chunks into a large metal bowl. Then, along came the finely chopped jalapenos, onions, and bell pepper into the bowl, to really bring out the taste in the salsa. Its now time for the main star of the show. After dicing those peaches in larger chunks, to give them the center stage in the final product as well as make them better to chew, I transferred them into my bowl to mingle among the rest of the ingredients. To finish off, I added the salt and pepper, with chopped cilantro and lime juice for the final embossing.

After several rounds of folding and mixing until the salsa is spread evenly throughout the bowl, my hard work finally paid off!Laid before me is the perfect soothing addition to my next lunch, a beautiful feast for the eyes! A conglomerate of yellow, red, and green, its bright, appetizing colors screams “ready to be eaten, or even gulped in mouthfuls”. I sat down with the bowl at the garden, scooped it up with the tortilla chips laid by my side, and swallowed all the sweet, juicy delight into my mouth. A few moments of mouth-soothing nourishment and then I was groping blankly in the bowl. hungry for more! The second time making this, I left the salsa to chill, which made it even better for the hot and sweaty summer afternoons! If you’d never tried making peach salsa before, but have tasted its alluring juiciness in food restaurants, I would heartily recommend you to try making it! Even if you have never tasted it, you never know what it could turn out to be – you might be left making this sauce every so often like me!

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Toaster oven that can deliver value for what you pay

The best toaster ovens are ones that are not only easy to control but also equipped with the power to act as mini-replacements for both your range oven and your toaster in a pinch. A toaster oven by definition should be capable of doing that, but not all of them are in fact able to deliver on it. Whether it’s because the toaster oven is underpowered or simply designed with limited cooking options, some fall short of the mark in the area where these appliances should really excel: versatility.

Below are 3 great toaster ovens that can deliver genuine value for what you pay, though. Boasting modern technologies like convection cooking and LCD screens, the following ovens offer the best cooking experience for the average homeowner.

Cuisinart TOB-135

The TOB-135 is Cuisinart’s deluxe toaster oven and broiler. This stainless steel appliance welds classic toaster oven shape and styling with new technologies like digital controls. The oven has a 0.6-cubic-foot capacity, which translates to it having the ability to hold 6 bread slices. It has 9 functions, a clock and 2-hour timer, an automatic shutoff feature, a nonstick interior, a slide-out crumb tray, a baking tray and a boiling rack.

This machine also boasts a convection fan for faster cooking of food. It also has an Always Even shade control feature for shade consistency when toasting, as well as an Exact Heat sensor for monitoring exact oven temperatures.

Pros

    • Convection cooking option
    • Convection fan is fairly quiet
    • Excellent build quality

Cons

  • The door’s design can make it hard to get some things out of the oven without a complete oven mitt on (unless you’re willing to risk burning your hand a little)

This is a great oven with the ability to toast, broil, convection broil, warm, reheat, bake, bagel toast, defrost and convection bake. It looks fairly compact, but it can actually fit a 12-inch pizza comfortably within its belly, which makes it a fair size as far as home toaster ovens go. Performance-wise, it’s fast and powerful, heating up swiftly when urged. Urging is simple in itself, as the controls are quite intuitive. The convection can be turned on or off at will, so you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to. The oven also feels and looks very solid, not least due to the appealingly clean stainless steel design. One wishes the manufacturers had decided to make the opening to the oven just that little bit roomier, but as long as you use an oven mitt when reaching in, you should be fine.

Related article: Deciding on which toaster oven to buy

Black & Decker TO1303SB

This is a 4-slice toaster from Black & Decker with Even Toast technology for ensuring consistency of shade. It can take a 9-inch pizza and comes standard with a baking pan and broiling rack. It has heating elements at both the top and bottom, a removable crumb tray, and a total of 4 cooking modes (toast, warm, bake, and broil).

Pros

  • Very cheap
  • Smaller footprint than most of its competitors
  • Decently even toasting

Cons

  • Takes some time to get used to the toast settings
  • A bit on the small side when it comes to capacity
  • Toast settings skew to the more “done” side

As with all toaster ovens, you should be prepared to sacrifice some slices of bread to test out this one’s settings before you make any pronouncements about how well it toasts. This is actually a fairly reliable bread toaster once you get the hang of setting it to the shade you want, but it requires a bit of trial and error. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s by far the cheapest of the three we’ve listed here.

In exchange, it’s a little shorter on features than the other two—both of which have convection cooking, incidentally—but if you’re not the type who does a lot of “serious” cooking with your toaster oven anyway, this may still beat the other two in terms of value. (Full article: Toaster Bake)

Might be helpful: Recommended for beginners

Conclusion

The best of the three is the Cuisinart due to overall excellence of performance and build quality. It may be the most expensive of them, but it still delivers the best cooking (and later, eating) experience, which surely should be the first criterion to consider in judging these three products.

That said, it may still be worth noting the value that the Black & Decker offers for the budget-conscious consumer as an alternative. Only get it if you don’t need the higher cooking power that the Cuisinart does, though, or you may end up lamenting it later.

More on toaster oven here.

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Finding the Perfect Pots & Pans for Home

Healthy cooking starts with healthy, safe, non-toxic pots and pans. It seems counter-productive to go out of your way to buy fresh organic produce and take the time to chop and delicately cook it, only to use pots and pans that leaches some noxious heavy metal or toxin into the food.

Recently I decided to clean out my kitchen and discard some tired old pots and pans. I wanted to make sure I was going to replace them with the safest pots and pans so I’ve researched all materials and brands available. Here’s what I ended up choosing…

Silit is a brand from Germany. It’s cookware range is made using their ‘Silargan’ ceramic coating, which is described as: ” … extremely durable high-tech ceramic is not only ultra-hard, scratchproof and non-abrasive; it is the pots and pans material predestined for wellness cuisine. It is anti-bacterial, very hygienic and neutral to taste. It is equally suitable for cooking, serving and storing foods. Moreover, Silargan is nickel-free and thus first choice for persons with allergies”. And it’s good looking to boot. Aren’t these babies beautiful?! (You might be interested: Are you searching for a ceramic cookware)

best pan to buy

Nickel is commonly allergenic (showing up as contact dermatitis) but can be destructive and ageing in accumulation even for those not technically “allergic”. It is a heavy metal that, just like lead, mercury, cadmium (and iron too for that matter), produces free-radicals. All heavy metals are very toxic, potent enzyme poisons and cross the blood-brain barrier, causing diseases like Alzheimer’s, ALS, MS, etc. Nickel has been shown to be more toxic than mercury (Dr. R. Peat). Not something I want in my food if I can help it.

Silit is not widely available in Australia. Myer was stocking it but no longer; they have some stock left on discount but not much. Otherwise look around online. I ordered mine through Graeme; he imports Silit; his range is available online here.

I also needed some basic, lightweight, everyday saucepans that I could beat up. I wanted a simple stainless steel set but learnt about the nickel content of this material also.

With stainless steel, look out for these numbers (most products will mention a reference number somewhere relating to the ‘quality’ and metal content of the stainless steel):

18/10 – indicates 18% chromium, 10% nickel
18/8 – indicates 18% chromium, 8% nickel
18/0 – indicates 18% chromium, no nickel
Unfortunately to make the steel properly ‘stainless’, it needs the nickel (which neutralises the natural ferrous properties of the iron in the mix to prevent rust), but I’d rather put up with a few marks over the years, then just replace them if they get tired… and this is doable considering “18/10″ is the most sort-after by cooks and more pricey. This is one such scenario where cheaper is actually better for you! It’s actually harder than I thought it would be to find 18/0 pots. Eventually I came across ‘Raco‘ – all their steel products are made from 18/0.

You may come across other 18/0 products also. Otherwise at least look for low-nickel stainless steel. To check the safety of your pots and pans for home, there are two simple tests you can do:

Baking Soda Test: Boil some water in the pot or pan with one tablespoon of baking soda in it. After boiling it, taste the water. If it tastes metallic the stainless steel isn’t of a high quality and is leaching metals.
The Magnet Test (easier): You want to buy and use only the magnetically-attractive stainless steel, which means it’s very low in nickel content and does not readily leach nickel into food. If the pan is magnetic inside and out, it is 18/0 (nickel-free) or at least low in nickel. If not, it is 18/8 or 18/10. Use a fridge magnet on your pots at home or take one when you’re out shopping for new pots. The shop assistants at DJ’s, Myer, Chefs’ Warehouse and Victoria’s Basement thought I was mad!
Other pots and pans materials that are safe and easy to find: Pyrex, glass, ceramic, bamboo (steamer baskets) and ceramic-enameled cast-iron (make sure the ceramic isn’t worn down and wash it gently with a soft sponge only).

And never go near: Aluminium, uncoated cast-iron or Teflon.  Important to note that compounds in Teflon and other ‘non-stick’ cookware such as PFOA and PFOS, are associated with elevated cholesterol due to their damaging effects on the liver, linked to birth defects and are shown to be carcinogenic. The maker, DuPont, was found out and sued in a 2005 lawsuit.  If you have any other kind of non-stick cookware that you insist on using, even if it claims to be PFOA-free or “green“, never use a metal scourer and discard if the coating chips or wears thin.

Article shared from The Nutrition Coach

Additional reading: My choices on the best pots and pans

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Brew your own coffee with espresso machine

The commercial world of coffee seems to have suddenly exploded in recent years, with more coffee machines than ever before being sold. There are machines for making lattes, Americanos, cappuccinos and espressos, which can now be achieved in the comfort of your own home. There also seems to be a coffee machine to suit every need and budget. However, choosing a cheap espresso machine may prove a little more challenging than you expected, as you need to know what machines are good at a budget price, and those that are simply cheap.

One of the benefits of having your very own machine is that you will save a lot of money in the long run, as you will be able to enjoy your coffee at home, rather than paying out upwards of $4 on a cup at your local coffee bar.

What is most important to remember, is that you don’t need to buy an expensive coffee machine in order to enjoy a good cup of coffee at home.

Here we share with you what to look out for when buying a cheap espresso machine.

Budget

Obviously you will be looking at the lower end of the market, but there is a big difference in the quality of machine when you spend under a $200 espresso machine compared to $300. These are still cheap coffee machines, as people can and do spend thousands of dollars. But stretching your budget a little further will usually get you a machine with more accessories and with a larger water capacity. However, the quality of espresso is not always compromised, just because of elevated price.

Pods Or Ground Coffee

Coffee machines at the lower end of the market will be those with an automatic pump that can be used for both ground and pod coffee systems. There are pros and cons to both, but it very much depends on what you want to get from your coffee machine. Coffee pod systems are usually more expensive but they are more convenient and create less waste. Once you have made and drank your coffee, there is only the pod to get rid of. These machines usually make a variety of speciality coffees, including espresso. But if all you want is an espresso, then you are better off sticking with a coffee ground maker, as it will cost you less.

Brewing Espresso

Espresso, Latte Or Cappuccino

The question here is what function do you need from your coffee machine? Do you simply want a cup of espresso or do you often drink lattes and Americanos? The choice of drink will influence your choice of machine. If you do drink milk based coffee, then you will need a machine with a milk frother attachment. If you do not drink milk based drinks, then you can opt for simplicity, less gadgets and ultimately get more for your money. – www.myespressomachine.org

Now that you understand what types of machines are available, let’s talk a bit about how to decide which one is best for you. First of all, I would recommend that you stay clear of steam espresso machines unless you drink only milk based coffee drinks. A manual espresso machine is also not the best choice for most first time buyers – if you get one of these espresso machines then be prepared for quite a number of poor espresso shots and some frustration before you learn get things right (the results are well worth it in the end if you don’t give up).

Semi-automatic machines and automatic machines are very similar in concept, so I will treat them as one group for the purpose of this discussion and refer to them as semi-automatic machines. That leaves us with semi-automatic and super automatic machines – so your decision really boils down to a simple question: “Do I want a super automatic espresso machine?”. Let’s have a look at some of the major pros and cons of these bean-to-cup machines:

  • Convenience – with higher end models you can pre-program several different drinks and then make them at a touch of a button.
  • Ease to use – your guests can easily operate the machine.
  • Consistency – you will get consistent shots of espresso right from the beginning (with semi-automatic machine some of your first few shots may be close to undrinkable).

Full article at http://www.espresso-machines-and-coffee-makers.com

More on espresso:

 

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Cookware Wall Art

There was a time not too long ago when kitchens rivaled bathrooms in terms of domestic spaces that weren’t for entertaining. Meals would magically appear, ready-made, on the dining table, and the the joy of cooking was hidden behind closed doors. A sea change started with Mary and Russel Wright’s 1950 Guide to Easier Living, which blurred the lines between formal hospitality and casual get-togethers, and now it’s practically expected that guests will mill about in the (likely open-plan) kitchen as food is prepared.

Hook is a new collection from neon-loving Karim Rashid that positions pots and pans as part of the decor—a kind of coming-out-of-the-cupboard celebration for the hardworking tools of the trade. The series is a collaboration with Italian brand TVS, a specialist on the cutting edge of nonstick cookware since the 1960s.

The design process began with a creative journey in search of the punny “pan that wasn’t there,” and culminated in an incredibly clever, super simple system. Each of the high-gauge aluminum pans in the range has a signature hook, which slips onto a wall-mounted hanging rail. It seems like a great space-saver for small apartments where storage is scarce—although you’d really have to make sure you scrubbed and dried everything super well, lest they leave traces of the evening’s beurre blanc trailing down the wall.

Now, would it really be a Karim Rashid design without a hit of bold hue? No. C’mon. Of course not. There’s an amazing variety offered, and the best thing is that it’s not just on the handles and lids. Have you ever seen a pink, baby blue, or purple saucepan? Well, you have now!

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Do you have a good bread knife to slice homemade bread with?

If you are going to be slicing homemade bread with any regularity, you really, really need to obtain a good bread knife. A dull knife with shallow serrations (or worse, with none!), is just not going to cut it. (ha ha ha.) Ahem.

Here’s the knife that I use.

bread knife

See the lovely, deep serrations? They’re really, really important. Do not skimp and buy a knife with chintzy shallow serrations. Most of you probably know this already, but a good knife has a blade that runs all the way down into the handle. Cheaper knives have a shorter blade that extends only partway into the handle and thus are not as sturdy. This is just an aside, though…the serrations are what REALLY matter.

If you don’t want to fork over a fistful of cash for a bread knife, though, Cook’s Illustrated has ranked the Victorinox Bread Knife a best buy, and it will only set you back about $30.

If you’ve been struggling to cut your homemade bread with an inferior knife, that will be a well-spent $30. Trust me.

This bread knife is also recommended:

Chicago Cutlery Walnut Tradition Bread Knife

“…the knife is GREAT! I like the feel of the walnut handle, which is nice in an age of plastic handles.

The teeth are spaced a LITTLE wider than my last bread knife, but I don’t think it cuts differently. Either way, this knife cuts through even the toughest 3 day-old ciabatta crust with ease.

Don’t overspend on your bread knife; if taken care of this will last your lifetime.” – Amazon reviewer

Read also: What is the best bread knife to buy?

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Common Rice Cooking Mistakes

Over a billion people depend on rice as a food staple. But surprisingly, there’s some confusion about how to cook it. Do you stir it? Should you let it boil the whole time? What’s the proper liquid-to-grain ratio? Do you cook white rice the same way as brown? We asked our food editors to clear up the questions surrounding this starchy staple. Find their advice for making the fluffiest rice, below. You may want to look at the best rice cookers for cooking rice too.

6 Common Rice Cooking Mistakes from Bon Appetit

1. Following Directions on the Package
“The directions given on packaging are usually wrong, even from reputable producers. If you’re using a new bag from a company that you’re unfamiliar with, use this technique: Make a small pot using 1/2 cup rice and 1 cup of water (for brown rice, change that to 1/2 cup rice and 1 1/4 cup water). You’re looking for fluffy rice where each grain is tender and holds its individual character. If you don’t add enough water, the rice will be underdone and likely burn on the bottom before it’s done gently steaming. If you add too much water, the rice will be sodden, mushy, and overcooked. So cook it, taste it, and adjust your rice-to-water ratio accordingly for larger pots of rice the next time.”

2. Treating Brown Rice Like White Rice
“When cooking brown rice, use 1/4-1/2 cup more water per cup of rice than you would for white rice.” Note: If you cook brown rice often, you may want the best rice cooker for it. A good brown rice cooker makes a difference in cooking brown rice.

3. Not Letting It Steam
“Let the rice sit covered for 10 minutes after it’s done cooking. Then fluff it with a fork.”

4. Stirring It
“NEVER stir your rice! Stirring activates starch and will make your rice gloppy. That’s what makes risotto so creamy.”

5. Not Adding Salt
“Rice is like pasta–you have to salt the water, or else you’ll have bland rice. I put a 1/2 tsp. to a tsp for each cup of rice.”

6. Cooking It at a High Temperature
“Start with a boil, then bring it down to a low heat. If you cook rice too quickly, the water will evaporate and the rice will be undercooked. Low heat keeps kernels intact.”

 

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My Favorite Kitchen Knives

I own many different knives at different price ranges. Some of these knives are rated the best in the world. Yet, in saying that, not all of them are necessary in a kitchen. I will not live without this useful knife set: the french chef, the cleaver, the pizza cutter, and the cheese knife.

To chop onions and garlic, the french chef is a must. I can’t think of another one that could do the job well. The only other option is a special kitchen appliance like the Magic Bullet, which I think is just a gimmick. The french chef is also great for cutting very thin slices of meat.

victorinox-chef-knife

A cleaver is necessary to chop big pieces of cooked meat. You are certain to find this knife in an Asian kitchen. Since I cook all sorts of ethnic dishes, this knife has come in handy. Just be careful! One false move and you could chop off your finger instead of the food.

The pizza cutter is rarely mentioned or sold in basic knife sets. Most people don’t even think to buy one because not everyone makes pizza at home. Even if you don’t make pizza from scratch like I do, frozen pizza is still very popular. I have no idea how those people make slices without a pizza cutter. With scissors maybe? I love my pizza cutter just like a pizza shop owner. No other tool in the kitchen can interchange with it.

Lastly, my most favorite knife of all is the cheese slicer. If you’ve cut cheese with a regular knife, you know that the cheese sticks to the knife. If you don’t wear gloves then you have to use your dirty fingers to push the pieces off the knife before you cut into the next piece. This happens with cucumbers, bananas, and many other foods. The holes in this knife prevent this stick so I can cut faster.

There are many other knives that salespeople will try to sell you like the bread knife or the steak knife. Assuming you own good quality knives, you can use any knife to cut bread and steak. I use my cheese knife for both.

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Camping out is more pleasant these days with the new air bed!

We love camping outdoors! When the toxic fumes of chimneys or cars belching out noxious pollutants gets too heavy on our lungs, we simply take out our SUV, pack in some essentials, and leave our apartment to spend weekends in the open countryside where we can breathe in fresh air and sleep as soundly as a baby, away from all the cacophony and hustle and bustle of the city. To be rejuvenated, we a proper bed though. This is an absolute necessity without which camping loses its charm. Our old air mattress had started developing leaks, and oftentimes we would wake up finding ourselves sleeping on the ground or entangled in the middle of the bed with the mattress caving in. We desperately needed a new bed, and started seriously looking for one from some of the best air bed reviews listed online.

air mattress

We knew what we wanted though! It had to be queen size so that both me and my husband could fit in without feeling cramped. It needed to be more than 20 inches above the floor so that we could have a ‘real’ mattress feel about it. It also needed to have an inbuilt pump that would inflate the bed automatically while we were sleeping. The inbuilt feature was important since we didn’t want the pump to be damaged through rough handling that was normally encountered during camping. The automatic inflation feature was also important since we needed the air cushion to sleep comfortably through the night. The most important feature that we were looking for however was the ability for the battery of the pump to be charged by the SUV console, more specifically the lighter in the console pack. This was very important since now we had the liberty of camping anywhere we wanted and needn’t restrict ourselves by a nearby power supply to charge the battery.

After reading a couple of reputed websites that listed the best air bed reviews, we zeroed in on our model quite easily. It had all the features that we were looking for. In addition, the top layer was flocked with soft material and had small inline horizontal wedges so that sheets could be tucked in to stay in place. There were vinyl side frames to hold the mattress in place, which added to the comfort level.

We have used the air bed four times since we bought it. Every time, sleeping experience has been sublime and extremely pleasant. We are so absolutely satisfied with its performance that we are now seriously contemplating changing our regular mattress at home with this one, and keeping a spare one for our frequent camping out trips!

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Here Is My Collection of Cookware Set

cooking

When it comes to selecting the best set of cookware for my cooking, I always ensure that I shop for the best in the market. The material used to make the cookware is the first thing I consider and then the price. The various materials used to make the ware include aluminum, cast iron, hard anodized, ceramic and stainless steel. The material that I have to select has its advantage over the others.

Aluminum for me is a great everyday cooking ware that I have to use in the kitchen. The reason I love it is because it’s often dishwasher safe, light, affordable and excellent in conducting heat, and hence my cooking is very fast. The cast iron ware is suitable for frying and simmering and also very durable. I also love it for it’s an even-heater.

When I decide to use the ceramic ware, it’s when I am doing light cooking, and I love it as it’s also chemical-free and very easy to clean after use. I would highly recommend the stainless steel to any professional chef as it won’t react with acidic foods apart from being unyielding. The hard anodized is sturdy and comes in various cooking-surface styles.

My cookware set include various wares like the frying pan, saucepan, grill pan, griddle pan and stock pot among others. The cookware that I use in the kitchen shows how good I am in the kitchen, and they always make my cooking look professional in nature. Depending on the number of people I am preparing the food for, the number of cookware will vary. The type of cookware I shall use will also depend on the kind of food I am going to prepare. With the best cookware set, my cooking becomes easy, quick and enjoyable as an everyday activity. I will always buy high-quality cooking ware from the recognized manufacturers, and this helps me save money.

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Iced Coffee With High School Classmates

Today it’s the 15th anniversary of my high school graduation and in two hours my old high school classmates are visiting me for iced coffee and pastries. I’m using the best espresso maker to prepare the iced coffee and I have some homemade flavored syrups on hand. The flavors I have include caramel, chocolate, cherry, French vanilla, butter pecan and almond rum. In high school my friends and I used to drink iced coffee at a coffeehouse just three blocks from school. We spent more time joking than studying and I used to have crushes on the male baristas there.

iced coffee

This is why I chose iced coffee as the main attraction for today’s get-together. I baked some cream-filled doughnuts, caramel nut brownies with strawberry icing, scones filled with dried fruits and orange lemon cake slices. My friends are bringing a few store bought pastries and I can’t wait to see them again. One friend in particular introduced me to the man who is now my husband. He worked at the coffeehouse I frequented in high school and he always knew the best espresso maker. A lot of our dates were surrounded by coffee and at our wedding we set up a coffee self-serve bar.

Right now I’m freezing some iced coffee cubes to put in the iced coffee when my friends arrive. I fix these cubes for my little girl when she drinks milk and the girl loves them. I also find the coffee cubes to be refreshing on days when I want to take a break from soft drinks and fruit juices. The iced coffee cubes will be a hit with the classmates when they arrive. It’s a good thing we’re doing this in the morning because the friends and I plan to shop later in the day. Today will be fantastic.

Learn here – http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Iced-Coffee

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